STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (FoxKansas.com) -- The campus of Penn State exploded in violence following an announcement Wednesday evening that the school had fired legendary coach Joe Paterno and its president in the wake of a sexual misconduct scandal involving athletic officials.
Thousands of students stormed the campus before marching into downtown streets to vent their anger and frustration over the ongoing situation. Video of the protesters showed police dousing the crowd with pepper spray while students responded by throwing rocks and fireworks at police.
According to the New York Times, the demonstrators destroyed two lamp posts. And video of the clash showed the crowd venting its fury on news reporters, overturning a television news satellite truck.
“We got rowdy, and we got maced,” Jeff Heim, 19, rubbing his red, teary eyes told the NY Times. “But make no mistake, the board started this riot by firing our coach. They tarnished a legend.”
The trustees held a news conference Wednesday night in which they announced that Paterno, who was in the middle of his 46th season with the Nittany Lions, had been immediately removed from his position along with President Graham Spanier, who had served in that role for 16 years.
"These decisions were made after careful deliberation and in the best interest of the university as a whole," John Surma, vice chairman of the trustees, said during a raucous news conference in which the decision was announced.
The school announced that current defensive coordinator Tom Bradley will assume head coaching duties on an interim basis. The school is scheduled to play the University of Nebraska on Saturday during Penn State's final home game of the season.
Several hours earlier before the trustees announced the firings, Paterno had released a statement saying he planned to retire at the end of the season.
"I am absolutely devastated by the developments in this case," Paterno said in his retirement statement. "I grieve for the children and their families, and I pray for their comfort and relief."
Paterno has been besieged by criticism since former defensive coordinator and one-time heir apparent Jerry Sandusky was charged over the weekend with molesting eight young boys between 1994 and 2009. Athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz have been charged with failing to notify authorities after an eyewitness reported a 2002 assault.
Paterno, 84, has not been accused of legal wrongdoing but he has been severely criticized for not doing more to halt the alleged abuse.
FoxKansas.com Staff Writer Alfred Charles contributed to this report. He can be reached at email@example.com.